Discover the History Of Scrabble: A Favorite Word Game to All

The history of Scrabble

Scrabble is an all-time favorite word game that is played already by generations. There are already many different variations, and we just can’t get enough of them. It is a perfect time for a family night or gathering with friends. It can be played by up to 4 players, and you all compete to prove that you know more and longer words than the others. Of course, you should have some luck on your side, so you get nice letters with which to create those words. But do you know where it comes from? We will tell you all you need to know about Scrabble’s history.

The history of Scrabble

As you can probably guess, Scrabble went through a lot of changes through the years until it got to the game we know today. Like many great ideas and family games, Scrabble, or a predecessor of Scrabble, appeared back in 1933 during the Great Depression. The inventor’s name is Alfred Mosher Butts, and of course, his idea was to help millions of families have a more entertaining evening at home. Alfred Butts was one of the many unemployed at the time, but his passion was analyzing games. 

Scrabble Games

After analyzing the main types of games (according to him, those were number games, move games, and word games), he found out why word games are not that popular. In most of them, there was no scoring, so no one was the winner in the end. But what is a game without the thrive on being the winner? And this is how the first Scrabble-type game was born, and it was called LEXIKO. Did Alfred Butts imagine how popular his game would become — maybe not, but the game also evolved quite a lot. Now you can find many variations but also additional pieces that can help you play better, like a Scrabble dictionary where you can find many words that will bring so many points! But let’s keep the timeline and see what happened with LEXIKO. 

Scrabble Letters

After the initial launch of LEXIKO, Alfred Butts didn’t stop analyzing games and also his own. This is why he found out what to improve and came up with a new game called Criss-Cross Words in 1938. And the letter distribution he came up with for this game is still the one used for Scrabble nowadays. The rumors and legends say that he actually used a page from “The New York Times” to calculate how many times each letter should be included in the game. 

However, this game wasn’t as successful as you might think, judging by the success of Scrabble. Alfred tried to approach many of the big names in the game manufacturing industry but, unfortunately, without any success. Even though Butts was a genius for coming up with the basis of the game and calculating the letter distribution with the cryptographic analysis, he wasn’t focused so much on the game experience and appearance. But everything changed once he met James Brunot — an entrepreneur that loved board games deeply. 

The Name Scrabble

Both of them teamed up and refined the rules in a way to make them simple and very understandable and the design to be very user-friendly. However, what is a game without a catchy name? This is why both came up with the name Scrabble which was meant to capture the public’s attention since it means that you need to grasp something. Most importantly, they secured the trademark for the name. But even after the game was significantly improved, the times in the beginning were very hard for the two inventors.

Scrabble Debut In 1949

With the help of their friends, they managed to produce around 2,400 in 1949 manually, but that set them back by about $450, which back in the days was a lot of money. This was the time when Scrabble started to gain some fame, and there were already quite some customers interested in the game. As the legend says, the president of MACY’S Jack Strauss stumbled across the game while on vacation and saw people playing it. Then he decided that this is a game that should be available at MACY’S. And this was the actual start of success for James Brunot and Alfred Mosher Butts.

History Of Scrabble

Three years later, the two friends had a contract signed with Selchow & Righter Company, which was one of the biggest game manufacturers back then. They produced the game and distributed it in the US and Canadian markets. In 1972 Brunot sold the trademark over Scrabble to Selchow & Righter Company, and now they were the exclusive owner. Scrabble was already widely popular, and this was the best title in their portfolio. 

Selchow & Righter was bought by COLECO Industries in 1986, and you might know them as the Cabbage Patch Dolls manufacturer. However, even though both the dolls and the game were performing well, COLECO went bankrupt a couple of years later. That was the moment when Hasbro, Inc. bought both Scrabble and Parcheesi. Since then, they still hold the trademark over the two titles, and we can say that Scrabble didn’t lose any of its glory and fame. 

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